Doctors: the people you rely upon when you are sick and injured. Hospitals: the place that handles your medical needs. You trust them; they are your health care providers. You have the confidence that they will operate in a professional manner and take every precaution to ensure your safety.
However, even doctors and hospitals make mistakes. When a health care provider fails to meet established standards of medical care due to negligence, lack of communication, or diagnostic error, patients often suffer the consequences. Those consequences can be grave. Luckily, medical malpractice lawyers are here to help when negligence occurs.
Medical mistakes are widespread. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration estimates that at least 1.5 million people are injured each year by preventable medication errors. The Centers for Disease Control reports that preventable hospital infections claim an estimated 99,000 lives each year nationally. The Institute of Medicine projects that errors by doctors, nurses, and other health care officials cause death to anywhere from 44,000 to 98,000 people annually.
Medical malpractice can occur in numerous situations. Common scenarios include:
- Labor and delivery-related injuries, including erb’s palsy and brain damage
- Failure to diagnose and treat in a timely manner. This includes all types of cancers, heart attack, stroke, and pulmonary embolism, among other conditions
- Anesthesia errors
- Surgical injuries, including those that occur during a laparoscopic cholecystectomy surgery, and other types of procedures
- Spinal cord injuries
- Medication errors
Medical Malpractice v. Ordinary Negligence
Medical malpractice requires special scientific or medical knowledge or skill that the ordinary layman does not possess. Hence the need for an expert witness. In contrast, ordinary negligence can be assessed by a judge’s or jury’s everyday experience. (Wulbrecht v Jehle, 92 AD3d 1213 [4th Dept 2012]).
To illustrate, in one case, a hospital patient undergoing cancer treatment suffered fractures on her way from her bed to the bathroom. The patient claimed negligence against the hospital for not providing a bedpan by her bed. The court ruled that this was a medical malpractice issue, not negligence, because it required special operational understanding of a medical facility. (Zellar v Tompkins Community Hospital, Inc. (124 AD2d 287 [3d Dept 1986]).
Furthermore, ordinary negligence and medical malpractice differ regarding their statutes of limitations. In New York state, ordinary negligence has 3 years for a claim to be filed, while medical malpractice has only 2½.
Moreover, if you are suing a municipality – such as a city hospital or other city healthcare facility – the statute of limitations may be as short as 90 days to file a notice of claim and 1 year and 90 days to file a lawsuit. (New York Consolidated Laws, N.Y. General Municipal Law § 50-I (2013)). As such, it is imperative that you take action immediately.
Proving Your Case
To succeed in a medical malpractice action, you must demonstrate that: (1) your health care provider deviated from accepted practice; and (2) evidence that such deviation is proximate cause to the injury. (Holton v. Sprain Brook Manor Nursing Home, 253 AD2d 852, 678 NYS2d 503 [2d Dept 1998]).
Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. Today
As you can see, proving a case of medical malpractice or negligence can be immensely complicated. However, you don’t have to fight for justice alone. At Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C., we have the experience and knowledge necessary to help you obtain the compensation you deserve for damages that you have suffered due to no fault of your own. To get started, call us now at 1-888-575-6410 or fill out our online contact form. We will fight for you!